When Did You Realise That Slashdot Had Died?

About three years after all the cool people decided that Slashdot wasn't the in-place to be anymore and went off to Kuro5hin, it's finally happened to me. Today's thread about Nat Friedman's Dashboard project shows the sorry state that the site now finds itself in; a few years back, this would have been a 100-reply thread full of people discussing the ideas behind the application, congratulating Nat and the others for getting so much done in so little time, and perhaps a little informed speculation about how this compared to the rumoured design of Microsoft Longhorn. Today, however, it's a 250 comment monstrosity. Hardly anybody talks about the project, and when they do, it's only to complain that Emacs has a feature like this already (well, yes, it does. As Nat explains, it also sucks at it, but who cares, huh? We don't want to improve things, do we?).

It's just so negative. Why can't we be positive for a change? Dashboard looks like a wonderful application, full of interesting promise (in fact, it seems only a few steps away from the Apple Knowledge Navigator adverts from a decade ago, which is pretty cool). It uses the openness of Free Software to work with current software, unlike the Longhorn approach which is going to need a complete rewrite of applications and the filesystem, and it works today. We should be celebrating this stolen march over the competition, rather than shouting it down simply because it happens to use Mono.

On the bright side, if I cut down on the Slashdot-reading, I'll be able to get more work done. Hurrah!

Hmm, apparently, the new A Silver Mt. Zion album has leaked onto the Internet, so I'm now going to try and hunt down a copy for my train trip on Thursday…

currently playing: De La Soul - Eye Know

A Week of Light Posting

I'm going to be in Manchester from Thursday, so there won't be too many postings this week. To make up for that, I promise to take lots of pictures while I'm away, so you can see the sunny climes of the North. Or the BBC Manchester building.

Today, I'm very disappointed in the British record-buying public. Daniel Beddingfield at Number One? Replacing Beyonce? You poor fools.

currently playing: ESG - Moody

Quick! The Sky is Pink With Purple Polkadots!

A report from a UK-based organisation known as the Broadband Stakeholder Group warns that the broadband boom will falter if digital piracy continues unchecked. Hmm. I think there might be a flaw in their logic somewhere…

currently playing: Nico - I'll Be With Mine

Sucking Helium Through A Straw

My brain feels like it wants to float into the sky again, so no entry tonight. Instead, just imagine an entry that ranted about the House of Representatives passing a bill that overturns the recent FCC deregulation, by a margin of 400 to 21. Public opinion seems to have been a determining factor in this decision; both left and right-wing groups joined forces in the attempt to rollback the new ownership limits. It's a victory for the consumer.

Except, of course, that The White House has promised to veto the bill. Hohoho.

Right, going to bed now.

currently playing: Soulwax - 2 Many DJs Part 3

Death To Kazaa Users!

The RIAA continues in its absurd attempt to put college America behind bars. Meanwhile, a competitor to iTunes launches. Amazingly, it manages to completely misjudge what makes iTunes great; Buymusic doesn't offer consistent pricing (prices range from 79¢ to $1.79 per track), or a consistent usage scheme (some tracks can be burnt to disc, some can't, some can only be burnt a number of times, and oh, you can't use an iPod with the service, as it's based around Microsoft's WMA technology). It'll be interesting to see how well it performs: Apple sold 275,000 songs in its first 18 hours. Buymusic has a bigger selection of tracks (300,000 vs. 200,000), plus as it's PC only, it should have a potential audience of 95% of the consumer computer market, opposed to iTunes's 5%. So it should be much more successful, shouldn't it? Hmm…

(Incidentally, CDBaby now has a contract with Apple, so the independent music artist now has a way to profit from iTunes without having to be signed to a major label. Seems to be a Factory-type arrangement: the label receives 9% of the profit from any music sold, and the artist retains all rights)

currently playing: R.E.M. - Fireplace

Eschaton Gaming

Wario Ware is many things. It is the latest attempt to milk the Mario franchise. It is a cynical rehashing of old NES games and crudely-drawn Game & Watch rip-offs. It is a witty and biting satire on the state of video games. It is also this: Excellent.

The slim plot revolves around Wario's attempt to break into the games industry, after realising he can make a quick buck like everybody else currently in the business (Wario is some evil relation of Mario, I think). The player's duty is to defeat Wario by beating his games. And there's a lot of them. 213, in fact. They only have one thing in common: they last five seconds. You can be picking a persons nose, racing in F-Zero, cutting steak, jumping sharks, saving penalties, and fighting WWI planes all in the space of thirty seconds. It's completely insane.

The game is broken up into several different stages, each of which have their own peculiarities; one will chide you for not having bought a Gameboy Advance SP yet, while another is set inside a toilet. Completion of a stage will allow you to play the games you have unlocked at any time, and may also reveal hidden features such as two-player activities or extended versions of particular mini-games. You probably won't unlock all 213 games when you first complete the main game, and The Grid will taunt you by showing a series of question marks. You will play, and play, until all those marks have been removed.

Your life will soon devolve into a series of simple verbs:

Jump!

Avoid!

Bounce!

Catch!

It commands you. A quickly barked order. A reaction test game. Then another. Then another. And another. You die. You reach the BOSS STAGE! You start again. Jump! Catch! Bounce! It's the greatest video game since, well, Tetris.

currently playing: Al Green - How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?

For The Benefit of People In The Aisle Behind

  • Ali G impersonations ceased to be funny in the UK three years ago.
  • Thank you so much for throwing popcorn in my hair.
  • Couldn't you have sat outside and talked? It would have saved you £6.20, and we might have been able to hear the film.
  • There's a special place reserved in hell for people who use their mobile phones in cinemas. A special place.
Anyway, Hulk. A bit of a disappointment: not enough exciting action moments for it to be a good summer blockbuster, and the much-talked about depth is little more than a few repressed memory scenes and Nick Nolte's incoherent rantings during the rather dull final fifteen minutes. (Also, it may just have been that I've reread Animal Man again recently, but the continued animal experimentation scenes were a little unsettling) Everybody performs reasonably enough, and the scene transitions are quite innovative, but it feels dull and lifeless. Rent The Ice Storm or Crouching Tiger instead.

Laura: have a good time in Cuba! You do realise that this will put you on John Ashcroft's List? ;-)

Lisa: I've taped the first two episodes of Dawson's Creek for you. Hope you had a good holiday...

currently playing: New Order - Love Less

Well you don't get a town like this for nothing

Tonight I feel like my brain is desperately trying to break free of its shackles and head off into the ether, so I apologise in advance if today's entry is useless (and your excuse for the other days? — Ed.).

Listening to the New Order documentary at the moment. It's quite funny in places: "We made a fortune off the back of the Greatest Hits, and of course it was all swallowed by the Haçienda"; the attempts to get the English football team to rap (there's a reason why John Barnes is the only one of the team on the record), and how they slinked off to Ibiza to spend Factory Records' money.

"We thought: we'll just go to the club tonight, come back at twelve and work on the record. We'd come back twelve the next day..."

Bah. It's making me miss Manchester now. Even if the Haçienda was closed by the time I got there. Ah, we're now getting to the obligatory band breakdown bit.

"We still don't know to this day how many records we sold; Factory Records could never tell us."

At this point, I'd like recommend 24 Hour Party People again. It's a completely fictional retelling of Factory, but like all stories, it's all true.

Time for the happy reunion. I'm going to lie down. See you tomorrow...

currently playing: TX - New Order

State of Mind

The Flaming Lips - Fight Test
The Clash - Train In Vain
The Waitresses - Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?
Electronic - Getting Away With It
Saint Etienne - 4:35 In The Morning
Kate Rusby - I Wish
Kenickie - Robot Song
The Go-Gos - Head Over Heels
Sleater-Kinney - A Quarter To Three
The Pogues - If I Should Fall From Grace
Beth Orton - Whenever
New Order - Run
The Flaming Lips - Fight Test (reprise)

currently playing: the above, natch.

UNC Bats For Two

Heh. The university enjoys stirring things up, doesn't it?

Hello to Parthe, who discovered my site yesterday. Look forward to seeing you in September. Apologies to everybody who comes to this site searching Johnny Unitas pictures (and yes, there are quite a few). May I suggest that you go here instead? You're welcome to stay, but I doubt I'll be talking about American Football at any length.

Continuing today's university theme, the International Center sent me an email yesterday, telling me that they've completed my new I-20 visa form, and could I tell them where to send it to? This was a little surprising; by failing last year's courses, I should be out-of-status and thus illegible for the visa. Not that it does me too much good, as an I-20 isn't valid by itself; you need a letter of enrollment plus evidence of financial support to get through Immigration. I'd better tell them I'm not going to be coming back in August though, as it might cause problems with my arrival later in the year.

Kill Bill! Out on Oct 10th! Yay!

currently playing: Saint Etienne - Sylvie